Training wake up call

I hauled myself out of bed at 6am this morning, in order to coffee up for my 7.30am training session in the park with Adam this morning.

Two long intervals, two medium, two short, two sprints and plenty of lunges, press ups and dips off benches in between.

The long intervals were the killers. Me focusing on the trees thinking ‘I can, I can, yes I can, don’t think about the hill that comes next, no don’t. Can… can…’ Sounds frightful, I guess, but it’s quite buoying because the ‘canning’ is being confirmed by ‘doing’. Anyway, you get the picture – plenty of perceived effort on my part. By that I mean plenty of ‘seriously mate, about to vomit here’-ness going on even though, in my head, anyway, I wasn’t performing anything like my best. Apparently my first long interval over 0.8 of a mile was 7m36s. I guess the heat makes you go faster but my goodness it takes it out of you because it was all pretty gah/urgh/bleugh from there on in.

Lessons learned:

  • black coffee not good on empty stomach when running (I do know this, but my idiot brain is in charge at 6am),
  • heat is not my best suit for exercise (nor is my Stella McCartney for adidas top which is nicely cut and all but has nowhere to mop sweat without my revealing the spare tyre acquired in bars of Heidelberg last week) and
  • perhaps mixed beans and lentils are not the ideal basis for an evening meal when you are running hard the next day (I know this as well, what is wrong with me?! And no do NOT ask about the near death by mortification I could have endured here).

But the good thing I did get was if you stretch enough afterwards everything does, pretty much, snap back into place. Those twinges are just tight muscles, they are not ‘pain’ and should not be indulged as such.

Adam’s off to Canada now for two and a half weeks, visiting family, which sounds bliss. (Yes I know I haven’t finished this holiday yet – shut up)

But he’s given me homework, so it’s not like I have nothing to do.

Hip stretches, every day
Hip strengtheners, twice daily
Long lunges, slow, controlled, daily
Squats, daily
One-legged squats, hips even, straight and forward
Clams – twice daily (!)

Work on pace and endurance – running – three times a week

Should keep me out of mischief…

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Off day running, good day pix

I set out this morning for interval training, feeling a bit off but you know how it is in the morning… it’s first thing, nothing’s quite right.

Bluebells out in the front garden - pretty

Bluebells out in the front garden – pretty

The first one-mile interval I ran I got that weird thing where it feels like you’re running on the spot. I was wheezing heavily and running as fast as I could. So I was disappointed to see 10.05 on the garmin.

While I was recovering I took pictures of the wild garlic that’s filling the hedgerows and then I was off again.

Blooming wild garlic

Blooming wild garlic

This interval wasn’t going any better. In fact it was going worse. My thighs ached, my breathing was off, no rhythm and so when I got to the end of a path I decided to miss the hill and instead slow down a bit and run across a lawn in the park, which turned out to be waterlogged. As I lifted up my feet like a prancing pony I felt decidedly weird. So I stopped and walked – and vomited into a rose bush!

No I am not pregnant.

My guess; maximum physical exertion + a cup of tea = messy flowerbed.

So I walk-jogged home. Even jogging felt odd. So I took some pictures on the way home.

Ford Lane, into Northenden

Ford Lane on the way home

St Wilfred's Church

St Wilfred’s Church

Church end of Ford Lane

Church end of Ford Lane

A day off-colour comes once in a while, it can happen. At least I got some fresh air and some good shots.

Walking mind over running matters

Ever listen to your thoughts as you run?

I didn’t used to but, just recently, I’ve had less work-fretting thoughts thundering through my mind (thanks to well-earned annual leave) and so consequently I’ve been less distracted. Making room for other thoughts which, I noticed, were less than positive.

‘Can I do this distance/interval set/tempo run?’ ‘Oooh, that’s a pain, hope that’s nothing serious’ ‘My legs are going to get tired/are getting tired/are too tired’ ‘I’m getting out of breath/am out of breath/can’t breathe/am going to die if I don’t walk for a bit’ ‘I’m not built to run in fact I’m too fat’.

Any of that sound familiar? I hear those thoughts running through my mind all the time. And I mean all the time I’m running.

Apparently it’s not doing my running any good either because scientists agree that running is, pretty much, all in the mind.

According to TIm Noakes MD, your brain sees it as its job to keep you in one piece. It’s your brain that decides when you’re fatigued, not your glutes, quads, whatever.

I’ve always had a tendency towards… nervousness isn’t quite the word – maybe ‘carefulness’. I was never the first to go hurtling down the hill on my rollerskates. I didn’t walk along the top of 10 foot high walls. I’m left-handed and so have always been clumsy. That makes you, careful.

So maybe it’s no wonder my mind goes into overdrive and invents 101 reasons why I should slow down. Bit of a hurdle for a woman wanting to run faster.

It’s all very well telling myself to think ‘Yes, I can’ but my mind has other ideas. It’ll be telling me to slow down as soon as I’m sweating and through two miles. And it really doesn’t like intervals.

‘Hmmm…’ I thought. ‘It’s like I have to make it easy for me in order to do it and that’s a problem with intervals. Running at it (ooh, pun, clever you) doesn’t seem to work. Let’s think about it.’

And so I thought about my latest interval training homework and why it wasn’t getting easier and made a plan. A little plan. Nothing too dramatic – got to be careful out there.

My interval is this:
5 mins warm up
1 mins fast
2 mins jog
2 mins fast
3 mins jog
4 mins fast
5 mins jog
5 mins fast
6 mins jog
4 mins fast
5 mins jog
3 mins fast
4 mins jog
2 mins fast
3 mins jog
1mins fast
5 mins jog cool down.

Scary? Scares me. I got to four mins fast once and made it through to 3.5 minutes and then it all went to… wheezing, pain and overwhelming sense of under achievement. Since then? I’ve kind of been avoiding them. Done lots of four mile runs. Like them. Yeah, I know, avoidance.

Well this morning, at 6.30, I was thundering down Wilmslow Road, glancing at my watch and thinking ‘post box, post box, make it to the post box’ and not looking at my watch until I got there and – lo and behold – I’d done a four-minute interval fast.

Big tip – don’t keep looking at the watch!

So, I got all brave – well kind of brave. I thought ‘ok, so you’ve done four minutes, can you do five. Maybe. Let’s try 2.5 minutes fast – 30 minutes jog and then 2.5 minutes fast again. Go on, try it. It’s two 2.5s and you know you can do that.’

And do you know what – apparently Mind swallowed that and I did it. All right, not all in one go but I did it. I can do it. I can.

Look at that – I can! I used the ‘can’ word.

Sometimes you just need to find ways round the 10ft high wall and not walk along the top. Now, where are those rollerskates?!

So ok, who else is a doubter out there? What do you do to convince yourself the seemingly impossible is possible? How do you smother your can’ts?

Interval training homework: C –

As I dragged myself up the hill, home past the church, I pondered why my interval session had been, pretty much, an unmitigated disaster.

Was I trying? Yes I was.

Was I pushing myself to keep going? Yes I was.

I’ve no idea what’s wrong with me. Just a duff running day.

My interval homework, set my running trainer Adam, was a set of out-of-comfort-zone speed runs from one minute up to five minutes. The best I could do; two minutes. My legs just refused to carry me at pace for three minutes and so I spend 40 minutes doing one minute pace runs with two-minute recovery jogs and 30 second sprints with minute-and-a-half recovery jogs. Not exactly what I as supposed to be doing but better than nothing.

This guy, Samuel Harvel, is a running coach who is good at talking through how interval training improves performance. Of course, he has a running track at his disposal so 400m intervals are easy. For those of us who have the streets, or in my case today, the trails around the river Mersey up to Didsbury, timed intervals are easiest.

River Mersey at Northenden

Where I run

But at least the sun was shining, there was a hint of Spring in the air, and as Scarlet said: tomorrow is another day.

Six month review

I thought it was about time I did a bit of compare and contrast on my running and so I’ve been leafing through old blog entries.

Wow, what a difference.

Six months ago I wasn’t measuring anything beyond time spent running, so it’s difficult to do accurate comparisons. What is different is my attitude.

Then I seemed to be running randomly. Now I call it training and it’s structured.

  • One long run – half a mile further each week
  • One tempo run or interval session
  • One kettlebell session
  • One fartlek or easy play run
  • One session with my coach, Adam

Then I was heavy footed, now I’m much lighter on my feet and during today’s fartlek four-mile session I noticed I was almost bouncing up hills.

Then running made me feel sick, now I can eat a banana and go out running – no bother.

Then I ate a lot of crap, now I think about food as being fuel. Yes I enjoy a burger out with Mr M and I love my gin-and-slims and oooh don’t get me started on giant chocolate buttons, but for the most part I’m all about the fruit, veg and lentil-type stuff and I can’t remember the last time I ate a cheese and onion pasty and I love those.

I weigh a few pounds less but my body’s much musclier – and I like that. My arms look terrific and you can see muscles round my tum!

And I’ve made blog chums. I love reading your blogs. I check them out on my iphone in the morning while I wait for the train. They’re an inspiration to get me out there, running when I get home.

Run like the wind

Today’s my personal trainer day. The day where I get up at stupid o’clock on a Sunday so someone 20 years younger than me can bounce about like an excited puppy while I wheeze, indiscreetly wipe snot on the sleeves of my micro-fleece and contemplate whether it’s possible to suffocate while running due to the fact my lungs can’t get the crap out fast enough to let oxygen in.

Whythenshaw Park was looking pretty gloomy today and it’s rained so much over the past couple of days little lakes have popped up all over the place

Lodge at Whythenshaw Park entrance

Lodge at Whythenshaw Park entrance

New lake

New lake

Today was interval training session. We did 1.5 minutes slow, 1 minute fast x 10. Twenty-five minutes with matching winds speed, squally showers with 25 mph winds pounding at me was, shall we say, refreshing. About the sixth interval I was really feeling it and as Adam is chatting away about how he wants us to do four more, I’m thinking… well, more praying really… that I won’t cave and walk, but suddenly we’ve done eight and I’m thinking ‘I can do this’. In the end I finished strong.

We then spent half an hour doing Mr Kettlebell drills with varying success. Although my lunges are much improved and my squats are almost a pleasure, I had some moments losing control of the kettlebell as I swung it over my shoulder. It’s only the blind terror over the potential damage I could do with 8kg of steel and my skull that keeps me in check.

I have now eaten an obscene amount of bread, butter, ham and about half a gallon of tea. I am complete; and bloody knackered.

Further with faster

You know, sometimes I’m not the brightest kitten in the basket. But sometimes that’s a nice surprise.

Intervals tonight – after a loooong 10 hour day at the coal face, fighting with a content management system that was playing hardball 😦 getting ‘yays’ on a cutsey little press release with adorable pictures from some key journalists 🙂 and still finding time to laugh at the utter ridiculousness of a couple of things that happened about which it would be completely unprofessional of me to elaborate further. (Though seriously, how we LOLed) 🙂 🙂 :).

So I nearly missed my bus stop in a texting frenzy with a colleague. rolled in and thought ‘oh, I’m going to enjoy this’. And I did – double bliss.

Firstly, I got to run off my tension doing my usual intervals and then, when I’d finished I got a great surprise – though only because I’m a bit dim sometimes. I looked at my (beloved) Garmin and pouted because I’d covered 2.2 miles in 25 minutes when last week I’d covered 2 miles, just under. ‘Oooh, disappointing,’ I thought. ‘And you were trying so hard.’

Then, when i got in and had eaten something I realised ‘Doh! Faster = further, dippy!’ 🙂

Intervals for the early birds

As I trotted up the road this morning at 5.15am (oh yes) the sky was dark, the air was cool but the sound of birdsong was all around me as I ran over the bridge and up the hill.

For months there has been nothing; just a hollow emptiness to the early morning lamp lit streets. But this morning there was full glorious chorus and even though it seemed as darkas ever, it felt like the birds knew something, that winter is moving on and spring coming in. Lighter mornings, oh what a blessing they’ll be. I want to see sunrise, I want early morning runs along the river – hurry up, spring and let’s see you.

Right, that aside: down to business – an interval session of just under two miles in my old routine.

I am pleased to report that while not easy, it was shedloads easier than it used to be and I somehow managed to get back, have porridge, bath, do hair, dress, drink tea, catch a bus, then a train, bob into the supermarket for a sweet potato and still get to work for 7.45am. 🙂

New highs, new lows

Sunday morning: Harry morning.

I meet him in the car park, he opens his car door and in the footwell of the passenger seat are my three (not) best friends, Mr Dumb Bell, Mr Medicine Ball and the dreadful Mr Hells-Kettle Bell.

But thankfully they remained in there, today is to be running based training.

After a 10 minute jog to warm up, that turned out to mean running up and down flights of steps – a la Rocky – 10x, which I can do. Progress! Then using one of those picnic bench tables as a step block and doing squats in between – 10x, which I can also do. More progress?!

Harry pronounces my legs much stronger and then we’re off for a run with me wheezing and Harry waxing lyrical about how fast we’re going as he glances at his smartphone. I know we’re going faster, I can’t breathe comfortably, never mind talk, but this is what I pay him for.

Now the following humiliation is completely my own fault. We’d done some intervals (these went well too) and we’re opposite Chorlton Water Park so I point out a hill that would be good for hill training. So we run up it. It’s a big hill. My arms are pumping, my legs are protesting and we go the top and then I… vomit!

Yes, I’ve now thrown up in front of my personal trainer.

I get waves of nausea quite frequently, about 30 minutes into a run. Harry’s advice; knock the coffee on the head. Acidic, apparently. Pre-exercise I should try that flat lucozade stuff which Harry says has been proven to be effective for people exercising.

I’m certainly willing to give it a go, I’m sick of feeling sick, if you see what I mean.

But, vomiting aside. And having it pointed out to me that I have a forehead dotted with flies stuck to my sweat (sexy, huh?!) today went well. I ran three miles in 35 minutes, including four intervals and a stop to throw up.

My ambition to run faster is an uphill struggle in more ways than one. I’m not making massive strides over night. But I am improving and I am getting faster.

Intervals: key to running faster

So I stumble out of bed this morning at 5.15am and think, ‘yes, I’ve recovered from Sunday’s session with Harry the personal trainer. Nothing’s aching. Crack on.’

Actually, to be honest  there are bits in there like ‘mmm, but duvet is soooo cozy’ but I’m a morning person so I know trying this in the evening wouldn’t work for me.

Interval training. I do at least one session a week, maybe two if work isn’t too demanding.

The theory is that if you practice running out of your comfort zone, so you’re wheezing a bit and in my case, just running as fast as you can, you will improve your ability to run faster over all your run. Given time.

Time + running as fast as you can in short bursts = increased overall speed.

My intervals

  • 5 mins warm up run/jog
  • 30 secs like the clappers
  • 3 mins recovery run/jog
  • 1 min like the clappers
  • 3 mins recovery run/jog
  • 90 secs like the clappers
  • 3 mins recovery run/jog
  • 1 min like the clappers
  • 3 mins recovery run/jog
  • 30 secs like the clappers
  • 5 mins cool down jog

Whole set takes about 30 minutes, providing I’m reading my watch correctly.

Looks quite easy, doesn’t it. It did to me until I tried it. But I am improving. When I began these intervals about four weeks ago I really struggled with the recovery jog after running as fast as I could for 90 seconds. It’s the running from full tilt to running at a jog that takes getting used to, it’s your natural inclination to walk you have to fight. But with more repetitions you realise that being out of breath won’t kill you and it is physically possible to jog and recover, even if your brain is screaming: ‘STOP, you crazy woman, you’re going to kill us’.

So this morning’s intervals went pretty well. it was dark in Manchester at 5.20am so I did a road run, which isn’t ideal. I also went too far out so had to jog-walk home for another 10 minutes after I’d finished, not ideal.

But I would say my intervals are getting easier so I am making headway in learning to run faster.